As a person who runs races in kind of a serial fashion, it seems like I’m always training for something. Often my choice of a goal race has hinged on the weather forecast for that time of year, the ease or challenge of the course, the location, etc. Recently, I started taking another variable into account, and I think this one might trump all the others: the time of year in which the bulk of my training would occur.
Think about it. It seems like every runs a fall marathon, right? Well, by all accounts, that involves doing a bulk of your training during the hot (and humid, where I live in South Carolina) summer months. Some people see that as an advantage because it means that running feels much easier once the cooler weather kicks in. I’ve learned that I have such a hard time running in the heat that a fall goal race is simply unrealistic. I often cannot make it through long training runs. I sweat so much that I have a hard time adequately hydrating and replacing my sodium no matter what I do. I might be able to run a fall marathon, but I certainly can’t race one to the best of my ability.
This year, I decided to train through the late fall and winter months, and picked a goal race in mid-February. The weather on race day should still be nice and cool, but my training runs will be freezing – just the way I like them! Of course, I live in the South. My definition of freezing is a bit different than those in say, Minnesota. While many people in my state are deterred by the cold weather and quit running during these months, it’s the time when my training ramps up the most. I feel more confident running in the winter, and am willing to tackle workouts that I otherwise might not attempt.
In order to decide when to do the bulk of your training cycle, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my ideal racing temperature?
- What time of day do I like to run?
- Do I mind running in the dark?
- Am I likely to tackle a hard workout if it is ___ degrees outside?
- Are there local training groups preparing for upcoming races during this time?
A strong training cycle is the key to a great race. The weather during your training is just as important as it is during race day.